Arnish capitalises on marine energy boom

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THE BiFab Arnish fabrication yard, outside Stornoway, Lewis, is capitalising on the growth of Scotland’s marine energy sector with new work from wave energy company Aquamarine Power.

Workers at the yard are currently manufacturing the foundation piles for Aquamarine Power’s ‘Oyster’ wave energy device which will be installed in Orkney this summer.

“We selected BiFab to build Oyster for two reasons,” says Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Martin McAdam.

“Firstly, they are a world-class fabrication contractor with over 20 years experience in the offshore oil and gas industry. Secondly, they are a Scottish firm with yards on both coasts.

“We are committed to building a world-leading marine energy industry here in Scotland and our goal is to use local Scottish firms such as BiFab and the Arnish yard for future work, wherever possible,” he continued.

The two foundations piles – which are 2.75 metres in diameter and 18 metres long – will be used to attach the Oyster to the seabed in water depths of around 12 metres.

And the Arnish yard, which now employs 120 people, has now been awarded an extension to the contract to manufacture the foundation piles for two additional Oyster wave machines which will be installed in Orkney in 2012 and 2013.

The full Oyster device is being assembled at BiFab’s main facility at Methil in Fife and once complete will be the second full-scale device installed at sea by the Edinburgh firm. The first Oyster was officially switched on in Orkney by First Minister Alex Salmond in November 2009.

The project is being supported through grant funding awarded by Scottish Enterprise and the Carbon Trust Marine Renewables Proving Fund; and fabrication of Oyster is on track for completion in June.

It will then be shipped north to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) near Stromness in Orkney for installation this summer.

Mr McAdam added: “As the lead industry partner in the Hebridean Marine Energy Futures project we can see clearly the economic and social benefits that could be generated in the Western Isles through a thriving marine energy industry.

“In Orkney we have worked with more than 30 local firms, employ people locally and have spent directly almost £2 million in the Orkney economy.

“We hope that, in time, we could build an even more positive story in the Western Isles. Lewis has some of the best wave resources in the world and we hope to announce a project in the Hebrides very soon.”